Business Briefs

By Ron Kotrba | August 16, 2017

Longtime leader of Renewable Energy Group Inc., Daniel J. Oh, resigned from his position as president, CEO and member of the board July 3. REG’s board of directors has appointed Randy Howard, a director on the company’s board since 2007, as the interim president and CEO. Howard said REG had been discussing for some time the type of leadership needed to take REG to the next level. In June, following the purchase of land in Geismar, Louisiana, where the company owns a 75 MMgy renewable diesel production facility, REG announced plans to expand renewable diesel production in Geismar and at other locations where REG currently makes biodiesel, such as in Grays Harbor, Washington, and Seneca, Illinois. Howard said his extensive leadership experience in the petroleum industry will facilitate acceleration and implementation of REG’s growth plans. The board of directors is beginning the search for a new CEO. “They’ve given me the reigns to run the company until we find a long-term leader,” Howard said.

West Coast biodiesel distributor and glycerin refiner Whole Energy Fuels Corp. has been awarded a $100,000 federal grant to study whether a lower-cost pathway is possible to make estolides—a type of lubricant—from biodiesel. The company received notification of the grant in June from the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovative Research program. The Phase I grant will be finished by mid-2018, and Phase II will conclude mid-2020. Disbursement of the funds was expected in July. Unlike traditional methods, Whole Energy’s process uses fatty acid methyl esters—biodiesel—as the base fatty acid, rather than oleic acid. “On top of a lower cost, this reduces the need for a separate reaction later to esterify the fatty acid,” said Atul Deshmane, president of Whole Energy. The research is being conducted at Whole Energy’s lab in Anacortes, Washington.

The German biodiesel quality management association AGQM has added four biodiesel oxidation stabilizers to its no-harm list of additives, following completion of the organization’s 11th no-harm test round. The four antioxidants added to the list are Xtendra BL100 and BL200 (CFS do Brasil), Baynox Ultra (Lanxess Deutschland GmbH), and Pachem-BL (Pachemtech sp z o.o.). Antioxidants are added to B100 to help achieve the required stability of eight hours in an accelerated procedure used in standards testing. The no-harm test was developed by AGQM in cooperation with the petroleum industry to ensure no negative interactions between the stabilizer additives in biodiesel and the petroleum diesel, engine oil and other additives used. Now, a total of 51 antioxidant additives from 28 manufacturers have passed AGQM’s no-harm test.

A Tesoro oil refinery in Dickinson, North Dakota, has plans to coprocess renewable feedstock along with regionally sourced Bakken crude oil to produce a 5 percent renewable diesel blend. Construction is planned to begin in October with start-up expected in December. Tesoro acquired the Dakota Prairie Refinery in Dickinson last year. The facility can refine up to 20,000 barrels per day (BPD). To coprocess renewable feedstock, such as soybean oil and distillers corn oil, Tesoro plans to retrofit an existing 8,000 BPD diesel hydroheater and associated equipment. The company plans to market the renewable diesel blend locally in North Dakota. Tesoro has applied for a $500,000 grant through the state industrial commission’s renewable energy program. The total cost of the project is $3.5 million. Tesoro selected Haldor Topsoe as the project’s technology provider and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. as engineering and procurement contractor. On Aug. 1, Tesoro changed its name to Andeavor to reflect the company’s ongoing transformation.

Solfuels USA LLC, a 40 MMgy multifeedstock biodiesel facility located in Helena, Arkansas, successfully began trial production in June, according to CEO Henri Bardon. Last December, two Singapore-based companies, Agritrade Resources Ltd. and Solfuels Holdings Pte Ltd., jointly acquired the former Delta American Fuel LLC soy biodiesel plant in Helena, Arkansas. With help from Frazier, Barnes & Associates as the project’s engineering partner and Process Systems Inc. as the construction contractor, Solfuels USA retrofitted the plant with multifeedstock technology to accommodate yellow grease, rendered animal fats, inedible corn oil and refined vegetable oil. Solfuels USA has engaged Weaver for Q-RINs auditing and EcoEngineers to help qualify the plant for participation in California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). The company expects the facility to be operating at full capacity this summer. The project created 15 plant jobs in Arkansas and four office jobs in Memphis, where the company is headquartered.

The DieselSellerz, stars of Discovery’s hit show Diesel Brothers, could be adding “bio” to their title after teaming up with Minnesota soybean farmers. That’s because the DieselSellerz are partnering with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council to promote biodiesel. The four “Diesel Brothers” will take on the task of building a biodiesel truck for MSR&PC, with the build set to air during a future episode on Discovery. The DieselSellerz are scheduled to make appearances Aug. 2 at Farmfest near Morgan, Minnesota, and at the 2018 MN Ag Expo in Mankato, Minnesota, where the Minnesota biodiesel truck will be unveiled. The partnership is part of a larger awareness campaign MSR&PC is embarking upon to tout the benefits of biodiesel in Minnesota.

Aemetis Inc. announced that its Universal Biofuels subsidiary in India has signed a three-year biofuels supply agreement with BP Singapore Pte Ltd. (BPS), the regional trading arm of BP Plc, which has an expanding biofuels portfolio. The Aemetis plant in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, has a capacity of 50 MMgy and is the first and only India biofuels producer approved under California’s LCFS for delivery of tallow and waste oil biodiesel. In April, Aemetis filed a patent on process technology developed at the plant in Kakinada, India, for the conversion of a wide range of waste feedstocks into biodiesel. Universal Biofuels has also won its first contract to supply biodiesel to the India government-owned Oil Marketing Companies in a public tender process. The OMCs provide about 70 percent of the fuel consumed in India, and the diesel fuel market is growing at a rate of more than 5 percent per year.

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